College Football's Post-Week 11 Playoff Projection

Athlon projects the CFB playoff.

College football’s playoff committee has released two sets of rankings, and the debate about the top four teams will continue every week until the final matchups are released. While the top 25 rankings are expected to change each week and will look drastically different from the release of the first poll to the last one, the playoff committee's poll provided some insight into the process.


Each week, Athlon Sports hopes to replicate the playoff committee’s work by asking some of college football’s top media members to vote on their top eight teams. This poll will attempt to project how the playoff picture stacks up after each week until the end of the year.


Expert Panel


Bobby Bowden (@TheBobbyBowden), Legends Poll
Gene Stallings, (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Don Nehlen (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Athlon Sports
Braden Gall (@BradenGall), Athlon Sports
Zac Ellis (@ZacEllis), Sports Illustrated
David Fox (@DavidFox615), Athlon Sports
Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis), CardChronicle.com
Teddy Mitrosilis (@TMitrosilis), Fox Sports

Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey), SBNation.com
Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB), SportsonEarth.com
Rich Cirminiello (@RichCirminiello), Campus Insiders
Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS), SaturdayDownSouth.com
Allen Kenney (@BlatantHomerism), BlatantHomerism.com
Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247), Eersports.com
Kyle Kensing (@kensing45), CFBHuddle.com
Adam Powell (@ACCSports), ACCSports.com
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) Athlon Sports
Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward), MrSEC.com
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.com
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR), Athlon Sports

Post-Week 11 Playoff Projection

Rank Team Logo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
1 Mississippi State 15 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 160
2 Florida State 4 14 1 2 0 0 0 0 146
3 Alabama 2 2 7 7 2 0 1 0 117
4 Oregon 0 1 10 8 1 0 0 0 111
5 TCU 0 0 1 3 11 6 0 0 83
6 Baylor 0 0 0 1 7 10 3 0 69
7 Arizona State 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 8 33
8 Ohio State 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 11 27
9 Auburn 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 8
10T Ole Miss 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
10T Michigan State 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1

Takeaways From Expert Poll Results

* Mississippi State extended its edge over Florida State for the No. 1 spot. The Bulldogs held 12 first-place votes last week but recorded 15 after Week 11. The Seminoles had eight first-place votes following Week 10 but lost four in this week’s projection. Alabama also picked up one first-place vote.

* There’s a clear top four in this week’s poll: Mississippi State, Florida State, Alabama and Oregon. In last week’s poll, Alabama and Oregon tied for the No. 4 spot.

* TCU and Baylor are on the outside of the top four in this week’s vote. Even though the Bears won the head-to-head matchup, the Horned Frogs recorded more points (83 to 69) in the post-Week 11 projection.

* Four SEC teams received votes in this week’s projection.

* Ohio State jumped from No. 10 to No. 8 after beating Michigan State in Week 11. The Buckeyes need a lot of help to reach the top four and could benefit from Wisconsin or Nebraska winning out and ranking among the top 10-15 teams in the polls prior to the Big Ten Championship.

* Arizona State climbs from No. 12 to No. 7 after beating Notre Dame. The Sun Devils won’t play an opponent ranked in this week’s poll the rest of the regular season, but a matchup against Arizona and Oregon (if it reaches the Pac-12 Championship) would help bolster coach Todd Graham’s team.

* Two-loss teams Auburn, Ole Miss and Michigan State each received votes in this week’s poll, but all three are longshots to climb back into the top four.


Group of 5 Rankings


1. Marshall

The Thundering Herd fell behind 14-0 to Southern Miss but rallied for an easy 63-17 win on Saturday. Quarterback Rakeem Cato has passed for a score in 41 consecutive games, and Marshall’s defense is allowing just 4.4 yards per play. Marshall could be tested in its final three contests, starting with a matchup against defending C-USA champion Rice this Saturday.

2. Boise State

It wasn’t easy, but the Broncos earned their fourth consecutive victory by defeating New Mexico 60-49. Quarterback Grant Hedrick and running back Jay Ajayi each topped 100 rushing yards, and the offense recorded 34 first downs in the victory. Boise State has a tricky matchup against San Diego State this Saturday, as the Aztecs have defeated the Broncos in back-to-back years. After the contest against San Diego State, Boise State plays at Wyoming on Nov. 22.

3. Colorado State

The Rams easily dispatched Hawaii in a 49-22 victory in Week 11. Colorado State is on bye this Saturday, and the off date comes at a good time for coach Jim McElwain’s team. Quarterback Garrett Grayson and receiver Rashard Higgins are dealing with minor injuries and could use the time off to heal before the final two games of the year (New Mexico and at Air Force).

4. East Carolina

East Carolina is coming off a timely bye, which should help coach Ruffin McNeill’s team regroup after the 20-10 loss to Temple on Nov. 1. The Pirates play at Cincinnati this Thursday in a critical American Athletic Conference matchup.

5. Memphis

Don’t adjust your vision: Memphis is currently at the top of the American Athletic Conference standings. Yes, that’s right. The Tigers are 4-1 in conference play and scored a key win over Temple on Nov. 7. Memphis should be favored to win its final three games – at Tulane, USF and Connecticut. The Tigers are a longshot to claim the Group of 5 spot, but the inclusion of Memphis in this ranking just shows how far coach Justin Fuente has brought this program over the last three seasons.

Games With Playoff/Bowl Implications in Week 12


East Carolina at Cincinnati
7 p.m. ET, ESPN 2 (Thursday)

After losing to Temple in Week 10, East Carolina needs a win to keep its Group of 5 bowl hopes alive.

Ohio State at Minnesota
Noon ET, ABC

A road trip to Minneapolis is a good letdown spot for Ohio State after its win against Michigan State. The Golden Gophers need a win to keep pace with Wisconsin and Nebraska in the Big Ten West Division.

Clemson at Georgia Tech

A critical matchup for positioning within the ACC. Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson is back in the lineup for Clemson, while Georgia Tech needs to win to stay within reach of Duke in the Coastal. The winner of this game stays alive for a berth in the Orange Bowl (assuming Florida State makes the playoff).

South Carolina at Florida
Noon ET, SEC Network

Believe it or not, Florida still has faint SEC East title hopes. On the other sideline, South Carolina is just trying to get bowl eligible.

Mississippi State at Alabama
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

This matchup is the best of Week 12. Mississippi State puts its No. 1 ranking on the line in Tuscaloosa against an Alabama team that is still climbing back into the national title picture. Can the Crimson Tide defense slow down quarterback Dak Prescott?

Nebraska at Wisconsin
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Not quite a national showcase game like Ohio State-Michigan State, but this meeting between the Cornhuskers and Badgers is important for the Big Ten West Division title. This game could feature two of the nation’s top running backs if Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah is healthy from a knee injury suffered against Purdue.

Auburn at Georgia
7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Remember how last year’s game ended? This year’s version could be just as entertaining, especially with Georgia regaining the services of running back Todd Gurley. Auburn needs to win this one to keep its West Division title hopes alive.

Missouri at Texas A&M
7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network

The Tigers control their destiny in the SEC East. Texas A&M looks to build off its momentum from the win at Auburn last week.

Florida State at Miami
8 p.m. ET, ABC

Miami is garnering some interest as an upset pick over Florida State, but the Hurricanes have lost four in a row to their in-state rival. This matchup is one of the biggest for Miami under coach Al Golden, while the Seminoles can clinch the Atlantic Division with a win on Saturday.

LSU at Arkansas
8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Will Arkansas get its first SEC win under coach Bret Bielema?

Arizona State at Oregon State
10:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

Sun Devils are on a collision course with Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. However, coach Todd Graham’s team has to avoid a letdown against a struggling Oregon State team on Saturday.

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